The EU and the UK government should negotiate a deal on the situation and rights of citizens as a matter of urgency and before starting the other Brexit talks, MEPs say.
In a joint hearing organised by the committees of Civil Liberties, Employment and Petitions, most MEPs underlined the “moral duty” to end the uncertainty created for both EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU since the June referendum.
The EU should let go of the principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” in negotiations, because a quick solution for citizens’ rights is a matter of priority. “Let´s do this first”, they concurred.
At the request of ALDE First Vice President Sophie In’t Veld MEP, who has set up a Task Force within the European Parliament to fight for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, the European Parliament today held a joint hearing on the rights of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit.
–”Mr President, let me be very clear. The EU should, of course, work closely together with partners in our neighbourhood in order to manage in the best way possible the challenges posed by migration. This can, however, not be an excuse to try to externalise our borders or to refuse to take our fair share of receiving applicants for international protection.
ALDE MEP Cecilia Wikström today presented, at the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament, her report on the reform of the EU asylum rules. Wikström has modified the Commission’s proposal to reform the Dublin regulation that, according to the leading Swedish liberal MEP, is no longer fit for purpose. Wikström’s proposal is based on the following key principles:
• Automatic registration of all arrivals by Member States with external borders to speed up process and break the incentives for secondary movements
• A compulsory and permanent relocation system so all Member States are legally obliged to accept asylum seekers and contribute to relieve pressure on frontline countries
• Removal of pre-Dublin admissibility procedures, so the responsibility for conducting admissibility procedures is shared amongst member states
• Light family procedure to allow family reunification after assessment of the application
• Allocation of groups of up to 30 applicants at a time
• Introduction of an emergency break in the automatic corrective allocation system, which will be suspended if the member state does not protect and manage its external border
• No opt-out from the corrective allocation system: paying EUR 250.000 per applicant to avoid the accommodation of refugees, as proposed by the Commission, must not be possible
• Five year transitional period to determine the quotas for each member state based on factors such as GDP and population
• Faster appointment of guardians for unaccompanied minors read more…
Address in the plenary session by Cecilia Wikström, Strasbourg 1 february 2017:
– Mr President, I would like to say thank you, Madam Commissioner, for your engagement, your commitment and your good intentions. It goes without saying that the European Union should always contribute to stability, growth and the protection of human rights and democracy in our neighbouring countries, but we must never, ever, outsource our own responsibilities and obligations in respect of migration policies and people in need, or externalise our borders.
LIBE committee meeting. Exchange of views with Bernard CAZENEUVE, French Minister of the Interior
Cecilia Wikström will continue as Chair of Parliament’s Petitions Committee for the coming two and a half years. She was re-elected in the first round by Committee members on Monday.
“I am honoured by the trust shown in me by the Petitions Committee. As its Chair, I will now continue our work to make sure that the EU does better at addressing the needs and experiences of European citizens through our legislative work”, Ms Wikström said after the vote.
MEPs also elected, by acclamation, the four Vice-Chairs that will form, together with Cecilia Wikström, the Committee’s bureau:
According to the Rules of the Procedure of the European Parliament (Rule 204), the composition of the bureau of each committee must reflect the diversity of Parliament. It is not possible, for example, to have an all male or all female bureau, or for all of the Vice-Chairs to come from the same Member State.
Address in the plenary by Cecilia Wikström, Strasbourg 18 january 2017:
– Mr President, the snow is falling and the temperature is falling. The harsh winter weather has now arrived, even in the southernmost part of the EU – in the southern Member States – and more refugees are faced with unacceptable living conditions. Thankfully, at the moment, NGOs and international organisations have been providing emergency relief. I would like to reach out to give recognition and wholeheartedly felt thanks to them at this time.
Harmonised EU entry and residence rules to make it easier and more attractive for people from third countries to study or do research at EU universities were approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The new rules clarify and improve conditions for non-EU interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.
The new rules merge two existing directives (one on students and one on researchers) to ensure that:
students and researchers may stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business, which should also ensure that Europe benefits from their skills,
students and researchers may move more easily within the EU during their stay. In future, they will not need to file a new visa application, but only to notify the member state to which they are moving, for example to do a one-semester exchange.
Researchers will also be able to move for longer periods than those currently allowed,
researchers have the right to bring their family members with them and these family members are entitled to work during their stay in Europe, and students have the right to work at least 15 hours a week.
“I am glad that the EU recognizes the value of attracting highly skilled people to come here and to entice them to stay by creating a harmonized European system applicable in all member states, said lead MEP Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE).
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has declared that Turkey will renege the EU-Turkey deal if Turkey does not get visa liberalisation this summer. The Liberals and Democrats remind the Commission that all 72 criteria have to be met before it proposes visa liberalisation. ALDE Group leader also reiterates its plea to get our own European House in order so that we are not totally dependent on Erdogan anymore.
The ALDE LIBE coordinator Cecilia Wikström added: “It is sad to see how EU-leaders are trying to outsource our European responsibilities to Turkey, by trying to set up a system which ensures that Europe does not need to receive any refugees, despite our international commitments. Turkey is a country that shoots and pushes back refugees at the Syrian border and it is impossible for the EU to cooperate with a country which does not respect international law. It is a mistake to believe that Turkey can solve our problems. Only a truly European approach, based on solidarity and compassion can do this.” read more…
The Council and the EU member states should accelerate the ratification of the Marrakesh treaty to facilitate access to books for blind and visually impaired persons, MEPs urge in a resolution adopted on Wednesday. Marrakesh Treaty, adopted in 2013, aims to enhance cross-border exchange of books in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.
“The lack of commitment from member states to reach a constructive agreement is a clear violation of the right to easily accessible information, enrolled in the UN convention on rights for people with disabilities”, Petitions committee chair Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) said.
“The European citizens have waited long enough. After four years with lack of understanding for the needs of people with disabilities, it is time to find a political solution in support of the blind and the visually impaired persons’ right to literature,” she added. read more…